FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Our Pastor’s Message
Welcome Home for Christmas!

As a child, I grew up in a household infused with religious belief and practice. As a family, we attended Mass on a weekly basis. We said grace before meals. We even prayed the Rosary together. Later, as a young adult, I volunteered as a catechist for our parish’s youth faith for- mation program. For me, the Catholic Church has always been a place of peace, a consolation during times of trial, and a second home. Sadly, we know that many people of faith and goodwill do not feel this way. During the past few decades, all too many people have left the Catholic Church behind. Some feel unable to join us for cultural, familial, financial, or personal reasons. Others simply feel unwelcome for reasons related to their marital status, sexual orientation, or basic lack of knowledge about the teachings and traditions of the Church.

At Christmas, however, many of our brothers and sisters in faith come home to the Church to experience again the miraculous joy of that holy night when God humbled himself and was born among us as a poor child. Even if just for one Christmas Mass, they come in search of peace, consolation, and meaning in their lives. They come in search of something that the world cannot offer: God’s endless love, intimate friendship, and boundless mercy. Whether they know it or not, they have come (called by the Lord) to find their place in the Church, our spiritual home.

For several years now, I have been thinking and praying about Pope Francis, his message of mercy and inclusiveness; and his outreach to the poor, especially the poor in spirit. I have been praying for those among us, friends and family, who might feel excluded from the beauty of our shared faith, the richness of our traditions, and the spirit of our parish life. When I became your pastor more than three years ago, one of my first decisions was to ensure that every announcement about every parish program and event included this message: “All are welcome!” However, we rarely explain what this means and to whom it applies. So here goes! Let’s be clear. The celebration of Holy Mass is the source and summit of our community’s joy and its life of prayer, fellowship, and service. All are welcome to join us for Mass and to receive Holy Communion in accordance with a personal examination of conscience and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

In this spirit, all are welcome means just that: “All are welcome!” Whether you are a sinner or a saint, all are welcome! Whether you attend Mass every day, every week, or just every so often, all are welcome! Whether you know the difference between an Apostolic Letter and an Apostolic Exhortation, all are welcome! Whether you are healthy, living with a chronic illness, or suffering from a terminal illness, all are welcome! Whether you are overweight or underweight or somewhere in between, all are welcome! Whether you are rich or poor or somewhere in between, all are welcome! Whether you are single, married, or divorced, all are welcome! Whether you are straight, gay, or not so sure, all are welcome! Again and again and again, all are welcome means all are welcome!

This Christmas and beyond, let us join together in prayer, fellowship, and service to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church. Let us open wide the doors of our churches and the gates of our hearts! And let us exclaim with one voice for the glory of God, forever and always: “All are welcome!” and “Welcome Home for Christmas!”

Peace and blessings to all,
Father Jim

Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Contact: frjim@ccgronline.com

CCGR Weekly Newsletter (12-24-17)
Bringing Home the Word (12-24-17)

Note: The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport sincerely thanks our friend, Jody Cole, for giving us permission to use her beautiful icon of the “Annunciation of the Shepherds” here on our website and in our weekly newsletter. You can learn more about Jody’s icons at jcoleicons.com.

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Christmas Mass Schedule
December 24th & December 25th
All Are Invited! All Are Welcome!

The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport cordially invites you and your family to join us for the celebration of Holy Mass in celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. In Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, Holy Mass will be celebrated according to the following schedule:

Christmas Eve
Sunday, December 24th
4:00pm in Saint Ann Church
4:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
6:00pm in Saint Ann Church
Midnight in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church

Christmas Day
Monday, December 25th
8:15am in Saint Ann Church
10:00am in Saint Joachim Church
11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church

Learn More: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

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Youth Faith Formation
Youth Christmas Pageant
Saturday, January 6th

Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Season of Christmas from December 25th through the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord on January 6th. During Christmastime, we commemorate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ; the choir of angels praising God in heaven; the call of the shepherds; and the adoration of the Magi with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

As part of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s celebration of the Christmas Season, we invite children from our parish communities to participate in our Youth Christmas Pageant on Saturday, January 6th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. This dramatization of the Nativity of the Lord depends on the participation of young angels and shepherds, along with those interested in playing the roles of the Magi and the Holy Family. If your child would like to participate in this wonderful holiday tradition, please contact Betsy Works at bworks@ccgronline.com. Please join us! All are welcome!

Learn More: The Feast of the Epiphany

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Message from Pope Francis
Promises We Make to Our Children

Dear Brothers & Sisters! In our catechesis on the family, we must consider the promises that we make to our children by bringing them into the world. The greatest of these promises is love; every child trusts that he or she will be loved and cared for. When that promise is broken, the result is a scandal that Jesus condemns, telling us that their guardian angels in heaven stand in God’s presence. (see Matthew 18:10).

The Church, through the Sacrament of Baptism, also makes promises to our children: promises to be kept by parents and the Christian community as a whole. In experiencing human love, each child comes to sense the presence of a God who loves children. It is important for us to foster this mysterious relationship by leaving room for God in their young lives.

Parents, in and through the love they show for their children, help them to appreciate their identity and their uniqueness as sons and daughters of God. Jesus teaches us to become like little children; so in protecting our children and protecting the family, may we keep the great promise which God has given to us, in them and through them, to our human family.

A Prayer for Families
By Pope Francis

God and Father of us all,
in Jesus your Son and our Savior,
You have made us your sons and daughters
in the family of the Church.
May Your grace and love
help families in every part of the world
be united to one another in fidelity to the Gospel.
May the example of the Holy Family,
with the aid of Your Holy Spirit,
guide all families, especially those most troubled,
to be homes of communion and prayer,
and to always seek Your truth
and live in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Ann, pray for us!
Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!

Learn More: Pope Francis News

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Pastor’s Note
Winter Weather Cancellations

For the latest information about weather related cancellations during the winter months in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please join us here at ccgronline.com. Announcements will also be made on WBZ1030 and cbsboston.com. All parishioners should note that if the public schools are closed during the week due to inclement weather, then our weekday Mass and all adult and youth faith formation programs will be canceled on that day. Peace and blessings to all for a Merry Christmas and a very safe winter season! — Father Jim

Learn More: Our Worship Schedule

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About Us

Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!

Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline